Margaret Ng ponders her future as lawmaker

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am

Legal sector lawmaker and Civic Party member Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee is understood to be considering stepping down from her seat next term, but her party's inability to find another suitable candidate could persuade her to continue.

Ms Ng told the South China Morning Post she intended to make a final decision some time this month on whether to stand again and her party had been seeking alternative candidates but was having difficulty.

One party member said Ms Ng had told party members several times that she was resolved to step down, and newspapers have run histories of Ms Ng's political career as if it were coming to an end.

'Actually, I was quite shocked to see that,' Ms Ng said. 'At some point, I will have to make this decision, but nothing has been decided yet.'

But the reluctance of other potential pan-democratic candidates to stand may become a crucial factor in her decision. 'I understand [fellow party member] Ronny [Tong Ka-wah] has found it very difficult to find someone,' she said.

Maintaining pan-democratic control of the legal sector seat is seen as particularly significant since the Legislative Council's legal panel - traditionally chaired by the legal lawmaker - maintains an important role in guarding Hong Kong's rule of law. Democratic Party veteran Martin Lee Chu-ming first occupied the seat in 1985.

One senior barrister who could be a formidable opponent to any pan-democratic candidate, and who has been mentioned as a possible candidate, told the Post she had not even considered it and did not know why her name had been mentioned.

Barrister Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah SC said she did not have the time. Earlier this year she was made president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and occupies other public posts, such as Transport Advisory Committee chairwoman.

Mr Tong said the Civic Party had not yet given up trying to persuade Ms Ng to stay on, but conceded he had approached several possible candidates who had so far refused.

'But the truth is we remain hopeful that we can convince her otherwise. At the same time, the elections are not that far away, so we also need to prepare, in case she does not run.'

Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said the party was monitoring the situation and, should Ms Ng decide against running, the party would begin searching for candidates.

Christopher Wong Kwok-yan, a solicitor and member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, has said he is considering running.

Hong Kong Bar Association chairman Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said: 'As a voter, I would have to see who else comes forward before I can make a decision [who to vote for]. But of course, if there is no one else, I would like to see Margaret there.'